Finally Friday Reads: MAGA Republicans are a threat to our Democracy

E pluribus unum / Andrew B. Graham, litho., Washington, D.C., Library of Congress

Good Day Sky Dancers!

President Biden went on TV to state the obvious in the birthplace of our Democracy, Philadelphia.  I was glad to hear it, but I wonder if it really will reach the ears and hearts of those that need to hear it most.  Here’s David Frum’s rationale at The Atlantic: “The Justification for Biden’s Speech. So much of it was true.” I thought POTUS was inspired by the historians’ panel he hosted last month and wanted to set the stage for the midterms before Labor Day.

President Joe Biden last night used the backdrop of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to accuse his political opponents of betraying American democracy. The complaints from GOP leaders are loud. How dare Biden use this birthplace of the republic to speak that way about former President Donald Trump and his tens of millions of supporters?

During his presidency, Trump repeatedly used places of national memory for partisan purposes. He gave a slashing partisan interview to Fox News from the Lincoln Memorial. At Mount Rushmore, he denounced “a new far-left fascism” that seeks “to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.” Accepting the 2020 Republican nomination on the grounds of the White House, he predicted that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, would be “the destroyer of American greatness.”

These deviations from past custom elicited some tut-tutting from a few who cared. But the complaints were ineffectual; Trump did it again and again.

So last night, President Biden followed the old adage: If you can’t beat them, join them. He briefly drew a distinction between those Trump-loyal Republicans and the bulk of the Republican Party. But that was a mere courtesy, because he almost immediately added, “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.” Biden presented the 2022 ballot question as a stark choice between right (his party) and wrong (the party that has become Trump’s party).

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “we can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American. They’re incompatible. We can’t allow violence to be normalized in this country. It’s wrong.”

We’ve spent innumerable posts over the past 7 years on crimes committed by the former guy. We’ve watched his minions get the frogmarch to jail.  We’ve had NAZIs and White Christian Nationalists marching everywhere. We’ve had a deadly, but thankfully, unsuccessful insurrection.  What about Trump and Trumpism is compatible with our democratic values?  And, what about the governors of states that can’t seem to resist the urge to purge democracy in their own states? Or the urge to grift taxpayer money for them and theirs.

Is this what you want for your state or country? After all these years, the FBI is back in Mississippi.

Brett Favre earned nearly $140 million as a star NFL quarterback over two decades and millions more in product endorsements.

But that didn’t stop the state of Mississippi from paying Favre $1.1 million in 2017 and 2018 to make motivational speeches — out of federal welfare funds intended for needy families. The Mississippi state auditor said Favre never gave the speeches and demanded the money back, with interest.

Favre has repaid the fees, although not the $228,000 in interest the auditor also demanded. But the revelation by the auditor that $70 million in TANF welfare funds was doled out to a multimillionaire athlete, a professional wrestler, a horse farm and a volleyball complex are at the heart of a scandal that has rocked the nation’s poorest state, sparking parallel state and federal criminal investigations that have led to charges and guilty pleas involving some of the key players.

Favre hasn’t been accused of a crime or charged, and he declined an interview. His lawyer, Bud Holmes, said he did nothing wrong and never understood he was paid with money intended to help poor children. Holmes acknowledged that the FBI had questioned Favre in the case, a fact that hasn’t previously been reported.

The saga, which has been boiling at low grade for 2½ years, drew new attention in July, when the state welfare agency fired a lawyer who had been hired to claw back some of the money, just after he issued a subpoena seeking more information about the roles of Favre and the former governor, Phil Bryant, a Republican. The current governor, Republican Tate Reeves, acknowledged playing a role in the decision to sack Brad Pigott, accusing the Bill Clinton-appointed former U.S. attorney of having a political agenda. But the state official who first uncovered the misspending and fraud, auditor Shad White, is a Republican.

In his first television interview since he was fired, Pigott said his only agenda was to get at the truth and to recoup U.S. taxpayer funds sent to Mississippi that he says were “squandered.”

“The notion of tens of millions of dollars that was intended by the country to go to the alleviation of poverty — and to see it going toward very different purposes — was appalling to many of us,” he said. “Mr. Favre was a very great quarterback, but having been a great NFL quarterback, he is not well acquainted with poverty.”

Pigott, who before he was fired sued on behalf of Mississippi’s welfare agency, naming Favre and 37 other grant recipients, laid ultimate blame at the feet of top Mississippi politicians, including Bryant.

“Governor Bryant gave tens of millions of dollars of this TANF welfare money to a nonprofit led by a person who he knew well and who had more connections with his political party than with the good people in Mississippi who have the heart and the skills to actually cajole people out of poverty or prevent teenage pregnancies,” he said.

And what would the MAGA movement be without Texas?  I’m no lawyer, but I can’t imagine age restrictions on guns is a constitutional issue.

Gov. Greg Abbott drew fury from parents of Uvalde shooting victims and others Wednesday after dismissing discussions about raising the age to buy assault-style weapons from 18 to 21, arguing that doing so has already been ruled “unconstitutional.”

Surrounded by supporters, some holding signs that read “parents matter,” during a reelection campaign stop in Allen, Abbott told reporters: “There have been three court rulings since May that have made it clear that it is unconstitutional to ban someone between the ages of 18 and 20 from being able to buy an AR — that came out of the Court of Appeals and then there was a Supreme Court decision that upheld it. And most recently, a federal court in the state of Texas stuck down a Texas law that banned people from buying a handgun.”

Uvalde families have pushed for Abbott to call a special session to raise the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of assault weapons. Robb Elementary School gunman Salvador Ramos bought two AR-15-style rifles just days after he turned 18 and used the weapons to kill 19 students and two teachers.

Over the weekend, Uvalde families gathered at the State Capitol to make their demands clear. However, while in Allen, Abbott stated: “It’s clear that the gun control law that they are seeking in Uvalde, as much as they may want it, it has already been ruled to be unconstitutional.”

The court rulings Abbott cited include one from a federal judge in Fort Worth that struck down a Texas statute banning adults aged 18-to-20 from carrying handguns in public after deeming the restriction unconstitutional. State law currently bars most people under age 21 from obtaining a license to carry a handgun  except “under certain types of protective orders.” In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman frequently cited a June Supreme Court ruling that struck down a New York gun law that restricted concealed carry of a handgun.

According to an emailed statement from Abbott’s office, the governor was also referring to a federal appeals court ruling in May that California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles to adults younger than 21 was unconstitutional.

A video of Abbott making the claim circulated on social media, drawing reactions from Texas leaders and Uvalde parents. Brett Cross, father 8-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia’s father, tweeted a video in response to Abbott, noting the “parents matter” signs.

“What parents are you referring to actually? Because it’s not us in Uvalde,” Cross said. Cross also claimed that during a conversation he had in person with Abbott, the governor shut down any talks about changing gun laws because it wouldn’t have changed anything. Abbott allegedly pointed to the 17-year-old gunman from the Santa Fe High School shooting in 2018, Cross said.

And let’s not forget Ron DeSantis in Florida and the horrid Republicans there.

This stuff would’ve made Donald Segretti blush.  MAGA Republicans are doing everything they can to steal elections.

A jury of six people found Seminole County GOP Chairman Ben Paris guilty on Thursday of causing his cousin’s name to be falsely listed on independent “ghost” candidate Jestine Iannotti’s campaign contribution forms in 2020.

Paris was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 200 hours of community service for the misdemeanor and ordered to pay roughly $42,000 — the cost of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the apparent vote-siphoning scheme.

Iannotti said Paris contacted her in May 2020 asking her to run in a competitive state Senate race. Though Iannotti had no political experience when she entered the race and did not campaign, her candidacy was central to the scheme, as she was promoted as a progressive in an advertising blitz that was apparently intended to draw votes from her Democratic opponent.

Paris was stoic as the verdict was read and as the judge detailed his sentence. He and his attorney Matthews Bark declined to comment as they left the courtroom Thursday.

Bark after the verdict said Paris does not plan to remain in politics and would have to resign as the Seminole GOP’s chair.

Another article from the Houston Chronicle features the slimiest Senator in the District.  Independents and Democrats need to come out in droves and get rid of these idiots!

Senator Ted Cruz has emerged as one of the biggest critics of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and now he and other Texas Republicans are reportedly exploring legal options to block the policy before it takes effect, alleging the move to cancel student debt is actually against the law.

A group of GOP attorneys from multiple states, including Arizona and Missouri alongside Texas, recently met in private to discuss their strategy to file lawsuits around the country that challenge the policy, according to a Thursday report from the Washington Post.

So, it’s no wonder MAGA Republicans are angry about Biden’s speech.  Here’s some coverage of that.  This is from Greg Sargent writing at The Washington Post. “MAGA Republicans are seething with rage because Biden hit his target.”

Republicans are in a rage over President Biden’s speech in Philadelphia, in which he flatly declared that the American democratic experiment is in serious danger due to Donald Trump and the Republicans who remain allied with his political project.

So here’s a question for those Republicans: What exactly in Biden’s speech was wrong?

Many objections have been general: Republicans say his speech disparaged millions, that it was angry, or divisive, or political, or hateful, or depicted Republicans as the enemy.

In coming days, these Republicans will retreat into right-wing media safe spaces to fulminate without facing cross-examination. But when they venture into mainstream forums, they should be pressed on specifics.

Those links with the pejorative words go to Republican tweets if you want to see what the usual suspects barked.

So, the last link is on the Former Guy, the Carnival Barker.  We now have a more detailed list of what the FBI found at the Mar-a-Lago Big Tent.  This is from Eric Tucker writing for the AP: “Trump search inventory released, reveals new details on docs.”

FBI agents who searched former President Donald Trump’s Florida home last month found empty folders marked with classified banners, according to a more detailed inventory of the seized material made public by the Justice Department on Friday.

The inventory reveals in general terms the contents of 33 boxes taken from an office and a storage room at Mar-a-Lago during the Aug. 8 search. Though the inventory does not describe any of the documents, it shows the extent to which classified information — including material at the top-secret level — was kept in boxes and containers at the home and commingled among newspapers, magazines, clothing and other personal items.

The Justice Department has said there was no secure space at Mar-a-Lago for such sensitive government secrets, and has opened a criminal investigation focused on their retention there and on what it says were efforts in the last several months to obstruct that probe.

The inventory shows that 43 empty folders with classified banners were taken from a box or container at the office, along with an additional 28 empty folders labeled as “Return to Staff Secretary” or military aide. Empty folders of that nature were also found in a storage closet.

It is not clear from the inventory list why any of the folders were empty or what might have happened to any of the documents inside.

This is from Tierney Sneed at CNN: “Mar-a-Lago search inventory shows documents marked as classified mixed with clothes, gifts, press clippings.”

US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Friday released a detailed inventory from the Mar-a-Lago search that the Justice Department previously filed under seal in court.

The search inventory released showed that classified documents had been mixed in with personal items and other materials in the boxes in which they were stored.

Federal investigators also retrieved more than 11,000 non-classified government documents.
One box containing documents marked with confidential, secret and top secret classification identifications also contained “99 magazines/newspapers/press articles,” according to the inventory from last month’s search filed in federal court in Florida.

Several other boxes detailed in the inventory contained documents marked as classified stored with press clippings, as well as with articles of clothing and gifts.

The court filing also provided a breakdown of the type of markings on the classified material taken from Mar-a-Lago, including 18 documents marked top secret, 54 documents marked secret and 31 documents marked confidential.

I don’t think you could pay me enough to touch anything the former guy put his hands on. Can you imagine touching his clothing?  UGH!  There are no gloves safe enough from his slime!

So, anyway, why do the Rethuglicans want this guy?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Lazy Caturday Reads: What A Week!

Happy Caturday!!

What a week this has been!

Norman-Catwell by Lucia Heffernan

Norman Catwell, by Lucia Heffernan

On Monday, the FBI executed a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and took 27 boxes that contained above top secret documents. Trump’s Republican allies viciously attacked the FBI and DOJ.

Predictably, on Thursday one of Trump’s fans entered an FBI office in Cincinnati, fired a nail gun, and pulled out an AR-15 style rifle. He then fled and was eventually shot and killed during a standoff in a cornfield.

While the standoff was in progress, Attorney General Merrick Garland made a public statement about the Mar-a-Lago search. He said that he had personally signed of on the search warrant, which was then approved by a federal magistrate judge in Florida based on probable cause that a crime had been committed. He also said he was requesting the release of the search warrant and the list of items taken in the search as long as Trump did not object.

On Friday Trump released the warrant and receipt for items taken to Breitbart, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal about an hour before the court approved the public release. Trump did not hide the names of the agents listed in the warrant. Breitbart published the names, opening the agents to terroristic threats and violence from Trump fans. They were also threatening the judge.

Finally, we learned that the 45th president of the united states is being investigated for violating the espionage act as well as obstruction of justice. Read the full warrant and receipt at The Daily Beast. You can also read a timeline of events over many months that led up to the Mar-a-Lago search at USA Today.

While all this was happening, Democrats in the Senate and House passed Biden’s massive inflation reduction/health care/climate change bill.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, author Salmon Rushdie was attacked and badly injured at an event in upstate New York.

The latest on the Trump espionage investigation:

The Washington Post: Agents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago seized 11 sets of classified documents, court filing shows.

The FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week found four sets of top-secret documents and seven other sets of classified information, according to a list of items seized in the high-profile raid and unsealed by a federal magistrate judge on Friday.

Rudi Hurzlmeier

Cat art by Rudi Hurzlmeier

The written inventory — a document provided by investigators after a search — says the FBI took about 20 boxes of items from the Mar-a-Lago Club on Monday, including photo binders, information about the president of France, and a variety of classified material.

One set of documents is listed as “Various classified TS/SCI documents,” areference to top secret/sensitive compartmented information, a highly classified category of government secrets, in addition to the four sets of top-secret papers. Agents also took three sets of documents classified as secret, and three sets of papers classified as confidential — the lowest level of classification.

The list of seized material doesn’t further describe the subject matter of any of the classified documents.

“Some of what was in Trump’s possession is mind-boggling,” said Javed Ali, a senior official at the National Security Council during the Trump administration who now teaches at the University of Michigan. “Whenever you leave government — including probably a former president — you can’t just take it with you.”

More details from CNN: FBI took 11 sets of classified material from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home while investigating possible Espionage Act violations.

The search warrant identifies three federal crimes that the Justice Department is looking at as part of its investigation: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records. The inclusion of the crimes indicates the Justice Department has probable cause to investigate those offenses as it was gathering evidence in the search. No one has been charged with a crime at this time….

While details about the documents themselves remain scarce, the laws cited in the warrant offer new insight into what the FBI was looking for when it searched Trump’s home, an unprecedented step that has prompted a firestorm of criticism from the former President’s closest allies.

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat painting

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat painting

The laws cover “destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations” and the unlawful removal of government records, according to the search warrant released Friday.

Also among the laws listed is one known as the Espionage Act, which relates to the “retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material.”

All three criminal laws cited in the warrant are from Title 18 of the United States Code. None of them solely hinge on whether information was deemed to be unclassified.

That last fact–that the items don’t have to be classified in order for a crime to have been committed–is going to short-circuit the excuses that Trump and his allies have been putting forward.

Here’s the claim from the Trump camp as reported by Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC last night.

Insider: Trump’s latest defense for Mar-a-Lago documents is everyone ‘brings home their work from time to time’ and the files were automatically declassified.

Former President Donald Trump said that everyone takes work home sometimes, as he sought to develop a new line to explain why top secret government documents were stored at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.

“As we can all relate to, everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time. American presidents are no different,” said the statement from Trump’s office on Friday night read out on Fox News.

Trump further claimed that he had a “standing order” to declassify documents “the moment” they left the Oval Office.

“President Trump, in order to prepare for work the next day, often took documents, including classified documents, from the Oval Office to the residence. He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them,” the statement said.

Hahahahahahaha!!!

This new defense – portraying Trump as just another hard-working American – contradicts previous statements by Trump and his lawyers that baselessly claimed the FBI could have planted evidence while on site.

By Sofia Struk

Cat art by Sofia Struk

While the president has the authority to declassify documents, legal experts say they must follow a defined procedure. It is not clear if Trump ever did.

“He can’t just wave a wand and say it’s declassified,” Richard Immerman, a historian and an assistant deputy director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, told NBC News. “There has to be a formal process. That’s the only way the system can work.”

Immerman noted that declassified documents are marked with the date they were declassified. It is not the case with some of the documents returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives this year, per NBC.

When reports of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago emerged in May, former Trump administration official Kash Patel claimed that Trump had declassified the files shortly before leaving office but that the classified markings had not been removed.

But none of this matters, because the espionage act charges do not hinge on whether documents are classified or not.

The Inflation reduction/health care/climate bill

The New York Times: A Detailed Picture of What’s in the Democrats’ Climate and Health Bill.

Democrats in Congress have had to scale back their legislative ambitions since last year, but the Inflation Reduction Act, passed by the House on Friday and sent to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his signature, is still a substantial piece of legislation, which will make big investments in the environment and health care, and increase taxes on some key groups.

The bill includes policies lowering the prices of prescription drugs; increasing the generosity of Medicare benefits; and encouraging the development of renewable energy and reducing the impact of climate change.

It would also raise taxes on some corporations and bolster the ability of the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on wealthy tax evaders. It would lower the federal deficit, though modestly.

The bill includes last-minute changes requested by Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, the final holdout among her party’s 50 senators. Democratic leaders agreed to remove a tax on some wealthy hedge fund managers and private equity executives, and to include $4 billion in drought funding for her state.

Head over to the NYT link to see charts and a detailed list of everything in the bill.

A shocking attack on famed novelist Salmon Rushdie

The Washington Post: Salman Rushdie hospitalized after attack onstage in New York state.

Salman Rushdie, the renowned novelist whose work made him the subject of death threats, was attacked at an event in Chautauqua, N.Y., on Friday by a man who stormed the stage and stabbed the writer in the neck and abdomen, police said.

Rudi Hurzlmeier2

By Rudi Hurzlmeier

Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital. His agent, Andrew Wylie, told the Associated Press that the writer was on a ventilator, with damage to his liver and nerves in an arm. He also said Rushdie will likely lose an eye.

Police identified Hadi Matar, 24, of New Jersey as the suspect in the attack. They have not yet determined a motive, Maj. Eugene Staniszewski of the New York State Police said, and are working with the local district attorney to decide which criminal charges will be filed. The FBI is also involved in the investigation.

In an instant Friday morning, a literary event in a lakeside town in western New York was transformed into a scene of potentially deadly violence, drawing gasps from the audience gathered in an open-air amphitheater.

Read more at the WaPo.

NewYork4: Who Is Hadi Matar? NJ Man Suspected in Salman Rushdie Attack Had Shia Extremist Sympathies.

Police are learning more information about the suspect who allegedly stormed onto a New York stage and stabbed author Salman Rushdie in the neck on Friday.

The suspect, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, was born in California, but recently moved to New Jersey, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation. His last listed address was in Fairview, a Bergen County borough just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. FBI officials were seen going into the home of Matar Friday evening.

Sources said that Matar also had a fake New Jersey driver’s license on him.

State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said the motive for the stabbing was unclear. A preliminary law enforcement review of Matar’s social media accounts shows he is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps causes, a law enforcement person with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News. There are no definitive links to the IRGC but the initial assessment indicates he is sympathetic to the Iranian government group, the official says.

A bit more from ABC News: Suspect charged with attempted murder in on-stage attack of author Salman Rushdie.

Law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News that “a preliminary investigation into the suspected perpetrator’s probable social media presence indicates a likely adherence or sympathy towards Shi’a extremism and sympathies to the Iranian regime/Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

The officials say investigators found photos on Matar’s phone of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Iraq’s pro-Iranian militia movement, who were killed by U.S. forces in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3, 2020.

Police believe the suspect acted alone and were in the process Friday of obtaining search warrants for items including electronics and a backpack found at the scene that they believe belong to the suspect, Staniszewski said.

The FBI is also assisting with the investigation, he said.

The suspect had a pass to access the event, officials said.

It’s been an unbelievable news week, and I expect we’ll be learning more about these three big stories over the weekend. What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following?


Thursday Reads: The Search Aftermath

R. Kenton Nelson, 1954

R. Kenton Nelson, 1954

Good Afternoon!!

The top stories today are focused on the earthshaking FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Of course there is other news; but I’m obsessed with bringing down Trump, so those stories are what interest me.

The only really new information to come out yesterday was this story by national security reporter William Arkin at Newsweek: Exclusive: An Informer Told the FBI What Docs Trump Was Hiding, and Where.

The raid on Mar-a-Lago was based largely on information from an FBI confidential human source, one who was able to identify what classified documents former President Trump was still hiding and even the location of those documents, two senior government officials told Newsweek.

The officials, who have direct knowledge of the FBI’s deliberations and were granted anonymity in order to discuss sensitive matters, said the raid of Donald Trump‘s Florida residence was deliberately timed to occur when the former president was away….

Both senior government officials say the raid was scheduled with no political motive, the FBI solely intent on recovering highly classified documents that were illegally removed from the White House. Preparations to conduct such an operation began weeks ago, but in planning the date and time, the FBI Miami Field Office and Washington headquarters were focused on the former president’s scheduled return to Florida from his residences in New York and New Jersey.

“They were seeking to avoid any media circus,” says the second source, a senior intelligence official who was briefed on the investigation and the operation. “So even though everything made sense bureaucratically and the FBI feared that the documents might be destroyed, they also created the very firestorm they sought to avoid, in ignoring the fallout.”

Of course it was Trump himself who ignited the firestorm by publicly announcing the FBI search, then whining, ranting, and grifting from his followers based on his supposed victimization.

In the past week, the prosecutor in the case and local Assistant U.S. Attorney went to Florida magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in West Palm Beach to seek approval for the search of Donald Trump’s private residence. The affidavit to obtain the search warrant, the intelligence source says, contained abundant and persuasive detail that Trump continued to possess the relevant records in violation of federal law, and that investigators had sufficient information to prove that those records were located at Mar-a-Lago—including the detail that they were contained in a specific safe in a specific room.

“In order for the investigators to convince the Florida judge to approve such an unprecedented raid, the information had to be solid, which the FBI claimed,” says the intelligence source.

There’s much more background information in the article if you want a refresher.

Onelio Marrero

By Onelio Marrero

Today, The Wall Street Journal has more on the events that led up to the FBI warrant and search of Trump’s property: FBI Quest for Trump Documents Started With Breezy Chats, Tour of a Crowded Closet. Why interactions between FBI, Trump team soured remains a mystery.

Around lunchtime on June 3, a senior Justice Department national security supervisor and three FBI agents arrived at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida to discuss boxes with government records sitting in a basement storage room along with suits, sweaters and golf shoes.

A few days later, the FBI sent a note asking that a stronger lock be installed on the storage room door, signing off: “Thank you. Very truly yours, Jay Bratt, chief of counterintelligence and export control section.”

In the following weeks, however, someone familiar with the stored papers told investigators there may be still more classified documents at the private club after the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes earlier in the year, people familiar with the matter said. And Justice Department officials had doubts that the Trump team was being truthful regarding what material remained at the property, one person said. Newsweek earlier reported on the source of the FBI’s information.

Two months later, two dozen Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were back at Mar-a-Lago with a warrant predicated on convincing a federal magistrate judge that there was evidence a crime may have been committed. After hours at the property, the agents took the boxes away in a Ryder truck.

Many elements of what happened between those events—one seemingly cordial, the other unheard of—remain unknown. But the episode points to a sharp escalation in the Justice Department’s inquiry into Mr. Trump, which also includes an investigation into the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on the Capitol. And it has prompted outrage from Republicans, who have rallied around Mr. Trump as he contemplates running again for president.

The WSJ says it’s a mystery why the DOJ investigation “escalated” to the point where the FBI was directed to search Trump’s property. It doesn’t seem that mysterious to me. Right-wing “reporter” John Solomon writes that Trump received a grand jury subpoena “months before” the “raid.” Obviously, the situation escalated when Trump ignored the subpoena.

The WSJ story doesn’t seem to have a paywall (I got there from Memeorandum), so you can read much more at the link. It’s very long, but Politico has a good summary of the facts from the WSJ article:

On June 3, JAY BRATT, chief of counterintelligence and export control section at the Department of Justice, visited Mar-a-Lago to inspect a storage room that contained presidential documents. By this point in his standoff with the government, Trump had already returned 15 boxes of records to the National Archives, which subsequently found “classified national security information” among the returned items.

Trump, who stopped by the June inspection to greet Bratt, had told the government that there was no more classified material in his possession. The dispute, it appeared, when Bratt showed up, was about returning what Trump represented to be non-sensitive documents. Retaining non-classified documents is still a violation of the strict Presidential Records Act, but the available evidence suggests the two sides were working it out.

onelio-marrero being-transported

Being Transported by Onelio Marrero

But things started to escalate. Five days later, Bratt sent Trump’s lawyer, EVAN CORCORAN, an email, a copy of which was read over the phone to the Journal: “We ask that the room at Mar-a-Lago where the documents had been stored be secured and that all the boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) be preserved in that room in their current condition until further notice.”

Then, on June 22, the government subpoenaed Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage, which the Journal says was provided.

And then on Monday, the FBI warrant was executed.

The mystery is: What changed?

The answer, according to the Journal, is that an informant told the FBI that Trump was lying.

This morning, Mick Mulvaney spoke to CNN about the FBI search, and in the midst of multiple lies and obfuscation he revealed something important. Politicus USA: Mick Mulvaney Says The FBI Informant Is Someone Very Close To Trump.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that only six or eight people would have the info given to the FBI, so the informant is someone very close to Trump.

“I didn’t know there was a safe at Mar-a-Lago and I was the chief of staff for 15 months. This would be someone handling things on day to day, who knew where documents were, so it would be somebody very close to the president, my guess is there are probably six or eight people who had that kind of information.

I don’t know the people on the inside circle these days. I can’t give any names of folks who come to mind, but your instinct is a good one if you know where the safe is and you know the documents are in ten boxes in the basement, you are pretty close to the president.”

If Mulvaney is correct, and the informant is someone very close to the former president, it makes sense that the FBI might also have knowledge of what Trump was planning on doing with the documents that he stole from the White House.

Jacob Lawrence, the Library, 1960

Jacob Lawrence, the Library, 1960

Of course the MAGA maniacs are up in arms. Kyle Cheney and Meredith McGraw at Politico: Trump world gripped with anger, fear and a host of conspiracies about the FBI search.

In the wake of news that the FBI agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump’s allies and aides have begun buzzing about a host of potential explanations and worries. Among those being bandied about is that the search was a pretext to fish for other incriminating evidence, that the FBI doctored evidence to support its search warrant — and then planted some incriminating materials and recording devices at Mar-a-Lago for good measure — and even that the timing of the search was meant to be a historical echo of the day President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.

“There are no coincidences when it comes to the Deep State. They could have done this raid a couple of days before or tomorrow, but they chose Aug. 8 for a reason,” Monica Crowley, a former top official in the Trump Treasury Department, said on the “War Room” podcast.

Trump world is no stranger to being deeply suspicious, even conspiratorial. But the speculation sparked by the FBI search has taken on a different scope, coming amid a combination of anxiety — that the so-called Deep State is out to get the former president — and a dearth of public information about the bureau’s actions.

“I can tell you all of us agree this is corrupt,” said Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump confidante whose service in the Trump administration was marked by attacks he waged on career officials and an acrimonious exit. “Many people in Trump world agree with me that this is theater and this is designed to damage the president, this is designed to damage Republicans in the midterms and it is designed to advance the interests of the Democratic Party. And you know what, they completely failed.”

There is no evidence that the Department of Justice did anything improper, and it in fact obtained approval from a federal court to obtain its search warrant. Trump himself could answer some of the lingering questions. He is at liberty to disclose the warrant — though he has not been provided the underlying affidavit — and to describe the files that were confiscated by the FBI. But so far he has opted against doing so.

Adolph-MENZEL-A Seated Woman Reading (Portrait of Emilie Fontane)

Adolph Menzel, A Seated Woman Reading (Portrait of Emilie Fontane

More on Trump’s and MAGA world’s paranoia from Asawin Suebsaeng at Rolling Stone: With Feds Circling, Trump Asks Allies: Who’s ‘Wearing a Wire’?

Donald Trump is worried he may have a rat — or multiple rats — in his midst. He’s wondering if his phones are tapped, or even if one of his buddies could be “wearing a wire.”

As the federal and state investigations into Trump and his orbit swell, so have the former president’s suspicions, according to two sources familiar with the matter and another two people close to the twice-impeached former Oval Office occupant. 

This summer, Trump has asked close associates if they think his communications are being monitored by the feds, or — per his phrasing — “by Biden.” As a source close to Trump describes it to Rolling Stone: “He has asked me and others, ‘Do you think our phones are tapped?’ Given the sheer volume of investigations going on into the [former] president, I do not think he’s assuming anything is outside the realm of possibility.”

The source adds, “He’s talked about this seriously [in the past few months], but I know of one time when he made a joke that was something like, ‘Be careful what you say on the phone!’”

Moreover, on at least a couple of occasions since May, the former president has wondered aloud if there were any Republicans visiting his clubs who could be “wearing a wire,” according to another person close to Trump and a different source familiar with the matter. Trump and his allies are baselessly floating the idea that federal agents could be guilty of “planting” incriminating evidence at his private resort. And the ex-president and several of his longtime advisers are trying to figure out if they have, in their terminology, a “mole” or a “rat” in Trump’s inner sanctum who is slipping his secrets to the feds. 

More stories about the search to check out:

I highly recommend this piece by Brian Karam at Salon: No exit: After Mar-a-Lago raid, Trump is trapped — and his fear is palpable. It actually helped me feel somewhat hopeful.

Emptywheel: The Likely Content of a Trump Search Affidavit.

The Washington Post: Citizen Trump may have broken a law that President Trump made a felony.

The Daily Beast: Hell Week: How Trump’s Problems All Converged at Once.

Vice News: Far-Right Extremists Are Violently Threatening the Trump Search-Warrant Judge.

Law and Crime: Federal Magistrate Judge Orders DOJ to Respond to Media and Non-Profit Requests to Unseal Trump Search Warrant.

New York Magazine: ‘You Can’t Play the Cable-News Game in Court.’

Have a great Thursday Sky Dancers!!


Tuesday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

I’m very pleased to report that today’s top story isn’t about Trump or his Republican enablers. That’s a very good thing for me because I’ve reached peak Trump exhaustion once again. Today Nancy Pelosi leads the politics news.

Reuters: Pelosi arrives in Taiwan, voicing U.S. ‘solidarity’ as China fumes.

TAIPEI, Aug 2 (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday on a trip she said was intended to express American solidarity with the Chinese-claimed island, the first such visit in 25 years and one that risks pushing relations between Washington and Beijing to a new low.

Pelosi and her delegation disembarked from a U.S. Air Force transport plan at Songshan Airport in downtown Taipei and were greeted by Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu and Sandra Oudkirk, the top U.S. representative in Taiwan.

“Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing. “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.” read more

China immediately condemned Pelosi’s visit, with the foreign ministry saying it seriously damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, “has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The ministry said it had lodged a strong protest with the United States.

Chinese warplanes buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday before her arrival, and Chinese state media said People’s Liberation Army would hold exercises near Taiwan from Thursday through Sunday.

More info from CNN: 

Pelosi and the congressional delegation that accompanied her said in a statement on Tuesday that the visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”

“Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said. “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

Pelosi is traveling with House Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks of New York, Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano of California and Reps. Suzan DelBene of Washington state, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Andy Kim of New Jersey.

The House speaker is expected to visit Taiwan’s presidential office and parliament on Wednesday morning (local time), a senior Taiwanese official told CNN. She will first visit the parliament before heading to the presidential office for a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, the official said….

The American Institute in Taiwan said Pelosi’s delegation will meet with senior Taiwanese leaders “to discuss US-Taiwan relations, peace and security, economic growth and trade, the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights, democratic governance, and other significant issues of mutual interest,” the institute said in a statement.

Pelosi also wrote an op-ed explaining why she chose to go to Taiwan, despite criticism. You can read it at The Washington Post: Nancy Pelosi: Why I’m leading a congressional delegation to Taiwan.

Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri

Yesterday the White House announced the death of the leader of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan: U.S. kills al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in drone strike in Kabul.

The United States has killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda and one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists, who, alongside the group’s founder, Osama bin Laden, oversaw the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Biden announced Monday evening.

Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike in Kabul over the weekend, according to U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

When U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan last August, Biden administration officials said they would retain capability for “over-the-horizon” attacks from elsewhere on terrorist forces inside Afghanistan. The attack against Zawahiri is the first known counterterrorism strike there since the withdrawal.

Speaking in a live television address from a balcony at the White House, Biden announced that days ago he had authorized a strike to kill Zawahiri. “Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said.

The strike occurred at 9:48 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the operation. A drone fired two Hellfire missiles at Zawahiri as he stepped onto the balcony of a safe house in Kabul, where he had been living with members of his family, the official said.

Read more at the WaPo.

At NBC News, Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report on a non-violent Biden success story: Biden administration task force reunites 400 migrant families separated under Trump.

The Biden administration has reunited 400 children with their parents after they were separated as migrants crossing the southern border under the Trump administration, said Michelle Brané, the executive director of the Family Reunification Task Force.

More than 5,000 families were separated under Trump’s 2018 “zero tolerance” policy and a 2017 pilot program and advocates estimate over 1,000 remain separated. Because the Trump administration did not keep records of which children were separated and where they were sent, the task force and lawyers working on behalf of separated families have had a difficult time identifying families to offer them the chance of reunification.

In the majority of recently reunited cases, Brané said, the parents were deported while the children remained in the U.S. Now, parents are given the opportunity to come to the U.S. on paid travel, bring other members of their family who are dependent on them, and live and work in the U.S. legally for three years.

Lawyers for the families have advocated for legal permanent status on behalf of separated families, but so far the Biden administration has not agreed to that provision.

Brané said the reunification also includes mental health services for families both before and after reunification. She said many of the families have suffered from profound mental health issues after their separation and counseling is often needed before they reunify. 

“You don’t want to just throw kids into an environment with a parent they may not have seen for five years,” Brané said. 

Click the link to read the rest.

Republicans are licking their wounds after the public reaction to their votes against health care for veterans exposed to burn pits. Politico: Senate GOP backtracks after veterans bill firestorm.

Senate Republicans are reversing course on a veterans health care bill, signaling they’ll now help it quickly move to President Joe Biden’s desk after weathering several days of intense criticism for delaying the legislation last week.

Republicans insist their decision to hold up the bill, which expands health care for veterans exposed to toxic substances while on active duty, was unrelated to the deal on party-line legislation that top Democrats struck last week. The GOP blocked the bill hours after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced an agreement on a health care, climate and tax package — angering Republicans who thought the Democrats-only plan would be much narrower.

Regardless of their reasoning, the GOP was quickly forced to play defense against both Democrats and veterans’ advocates who were caught off-guard by Republican delaying tactics after the party greenlit a nearly identical bill in June.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to respond to a question Monday about why the legislation was held up.

“It will pass this week,” he said.

Other Republicans in Senate leadership struck a similar tone. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told POLITICO he would “expect it to pass” and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), McConnell’s No. 2, echoed that at “some point this is going to pass and it will pass big.”

In another potential win for Democrats in Congress, Joe Manchin finally came through with something good. William Saletan at The Bulwark (link above):

Joe Manchin has rescued the Democratic agenda. After blocking President Biden’s Build Back Better plan for nearly a year—as well as subsequent, pared-down versions of the legislation—the West Virginia senator has reversed course. Last Thursday he endorsed a revised $400 billion package that focuses on health insurance subsidies, cutting the cost of prescription drugs, and funding new energy technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

With Manchin’s vote, the bill is likely to pass. But he isn’t just voting for it; he’s selling it. Over the weekend, he appeared on all five Sunday morning talk shows—a rare feat often referred to as a “full Ginsburg”—to make his case for the bill. It was an eye roll-worthy display of political spin. Here’s a summary of his talking points.

(Abridged–You’ll need to go to the Bulwark to read all the details.)

1. It’s not Build Back Better. It’s the Inflation Reduction Act.

The vast majority of the new bill comes from Biden’s BBB framework. Most Democrats liked BBB and would be happy to celebrate the passage of these elements of it. But Manchin, who represents a conservative state, doesn’t want to be associated with BBB. He doesn’t want to look like he’s saving the Democratic agenda. He wants to look like he’s killing it.

2. It’s not spending. It’s investment.

“I couldn’t get there with Build Back Better. It was $3.5 trillion of spending,” Manchin explained on CNN’s State of the Union. In contrast, he argued, the Inflation Reduction Act knocked “$3.5 trillion dollars of spending down to $400 billion of investment.” On Face the NationFox News Sunday, and This Week, he made the same pitch: BBB was a “spending bill,” but the IRA was an “investment bill.”

3. It doesn’t raise taxes. It closes loopholes.

On Fox News Sunday, Manchin insisted that his bill’s establishment of a 15 percent minimum tax for billion-dollar companies—up from zero percent—wasn’t really a tax increase. “It does not raise taxes,” he told Bret Baier. “All we did was close loopholes.” Thirty seconds later, Manchin repeated, “We did not raise taxes. We’ve closed loopholes. . . . I made sure there was no tax increases in this whatsoever.

4. It’s not a green bill. It’s red, white, and blue.

In much of the United States, being “green” is poCpular. Restaurants, grocery stories, and retailers advertise it. But Manchin, who represents a coal state, seems to have decided that among his target audience, “green” is a dirty word. So he’s pointedly rejecting it.

“This is not a green deal. It’s not a Republican deal. It’s not a Democrat deal. It is a red, white, and blue deal,” Manchin declared on CNN. A few minutes later, he repeated: “It’s definitely not a green bill. This is a red, white, and blue bill.” On Fox, he delivered the same message: “It’s not a green bill. This is a red, white, and blue bill.

There are a few Trump investigation stories today. 

CNN: Retired DC cop who testified before January 6 committee says Trump ‘adamantly’ wanted to go to Capitol.

A retired Washington, DC, police officer who was part of Donald Trump’s motorcade on January 6, 2021, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday night that the then-President was adamant about going to the US Capitol as the riot unfolded.

The comments by Mark Robinson, who has testified to the January 6 committee, further corroborate key details first revealed by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who spoke at length about Trump’s behaviorto the House select committee. Hutchinson said that she was told that Trump became “irate” when informed by security that he would not be going to the Capitol on January 6, because the situation was not secure.

Robinson was not physically with Trump on January 6. He was in the lead car of the motorcade and said that he learned Trump wanted to go to the Capitol through communications from the Secret Service.

“We’ve heard it several times while it was on the motorcade. I think during the speech, shortly thereafter, he had finished the speech, that the President was getting into the motorcade and he was upset. And he adamantly wanted to go to the Capitol,” Robinson told Lemon. “And even when we departed from the Ellipse it was repeated again. … It was a heated argument in the limo. And he wanted to definitely go to the Capitol.” [….]

“I think it would have probably encouraged more rioting. And (the rioters would have) felt supported. If the presidential motorcade came in support of them. So I think the insurrectionists probably would have felt as though they had the support of the President,” Robinson said.

More details at the CNN link.

Two more Trump investigation stories to check out:

Politico: Judge rejects Trump effort to toss lawsuits accusing him of Jan. 6 conspiracy.

The New York Times: Top Democrats, Alleging Cover-Up, Seek Testimony on Secret Service Texts.

I hope you all have a great Tuesday!


Lazy Caturday Reads

117e788ba6a99375d6d826a17311ce9aHappy Caturday!!

It’s a busy news day for a Saturday, and multiple outlets are breaking January 6 investigation scoops.

Last night the Washington Post’s Maria Sacchetti and Carol Leonig posted a new story on the missing Secret Service text messages and the so-called investigation by Trump-appointed IG Joseph Cuffari: Homeland Security watchdog halted plan to recover Secret Service texts, records show.

The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog scrapped its investigative team’s effort to collect agency phones to try to recover deleted Secret Service texts this year, according to four people with knowledge of the decision and internal records reviewed by The Washington Post.

In early February, after learning that the Secret Service’s text messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, staff at Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s office planned to contact all DHS agencies offering to have data specialists help retrieve messages from their phones, according to two government whistleblowers who provided reports to Congress.

But later that month, Cuffari’s office decided it would not collect or review any agency phones,according to three people briefed on the decision.

The latest revelation comes as Democratic lawmakers have accused Cuffari’s office of failing to aggressively investigate the agency’s actions in response to the violent attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.

Cuffari wrote a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security committees this month saying the Secret Service’s text messages from the time of the attack had been “erased.” But he did not immediately disclose that his office first discovered that deletion in December and failed to alert lawmakers or examine the phones. Nor did he alert Congress that other text messages were missing, including those of the two top Trump appointees running the Department of Homeland Security during the final days of the administration.

Why is this guy still in his job? It might be a good idea for Biden to get rid of all Trump appointees ASAP.

03b6ba8a9311154d078acef7df2111c3It gets worse day by day. This is from CNN: Exclusive: DHS inspector general knew of missing Secret Service texts months earlier than previously known.

The embattled inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security first learned of missing Secret Service text messages in May 2021 — months earlier than previously known and more than a year before he alerted the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, that potentially crucial information may have been erased, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this month, Secret Service officials told congressional committees that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, the department’s independent watchdog, was aware that texts had been erased in December 2021. But sources tell CNN, the Secret Service had notified Cuffari’s office of missing text messages in May 2021, seven months earlier.

The Secret Service now says the texts were lost as a result of a previously scheduled data migration of its agents’ cell phones that began on January 27, 2021, exactly three weeks after the attack on the US Capitol. After the data migration was completed, in May 2021 the Secret Service told Cuffari’s office that they tried to contact a cellular provider to retrieve the texts when they realized they were lost, a source told CNN.

The source added that key Secret Service personnel didn’t realize data was permanently lost until after the data migration was completed, and erroneously believed the data was backed up. In July 2021, inspector general investigators told DHS they were no longer seeking Secret Service text messages, according to two sources. Cuffari’s office then restarted its probe in December 2021.

These new details come as Cuffari faces mounting pressure from key Democrats to hand off his investigation into the missing messages. They also come amid revelations that text messages for the two top DHS officials under former President Donald Trump, acting Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli, are missing for a key period leading up to the January 6 attack.

The Washington Post first reported the missing Wolf and Cuccinelli texts, which were lost in a “reset” of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021 in preparation for the new Biden administration, according to the Post.

333d896c0c3719dee962e151aa76649bFrom Raw Story: Trump admin official reveals she went public because she did not trust DHS inspector general.

The scandal over the Jan. 6 evidence that was deleted by the Department of Homeland Security is being investigated by a public official that can’t be trusted, a CNN panel explained on Friday….

For analysis, former Trump homeland security advisor Olivia Troye was interviewed by CNN’s Jim Sciutto alongside former CIA agent Phil Mudd and government ethics expert Norm Eisen.

“When you work at senior levels in the Trump administration you kind of know where people’s loyalties lie,” Troye said. “There is a reason that I went very public with my concerns about the Trump administration rather than going through the traditional whistle-blower process, which would have led me to the inspector general’s office at DHS. And I’ll just say that. There’s a level of trust there that you understand.”

But Troye suggested there may not be text messages to recover.

“The other part of it is I’ve got to tell you, being a Trump admin person, most of the administration communicated on encrypted signal apps,” she revealed. “A lot of the time these messages were likely disappearing.”

Mudd said that Cuffari needs to go.

“This is beyond incompetence,” he said. “Any inspector general, whether CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, doesn’t work for, say, the head of Homeland Security, they work in essence for the Congress.”

So why does Cuffari still have a job?

Yesterday afternoon The Washington Post published a story based on interviews with cybersecurity experts: Secret Service’s ‘ludicrous’ deletion of Jan. 6 phone data baffles experts.

Cybersecurity experts and former government leaders are stunned by how poorly the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security handled the preservation of officials’ text messages and other data from around Jan. 6, 2021, saying the top agencies entrusted with fighting cybercrime should never have bungled the simple task of backing up agents’ phones.

00146d940a6a2c96813fbb5480c6d59cExperts are divided over whether the disappearance of phone data from around the time of the insurrection is a sign of incompetence, an intentional coverupor some murkier middle ground. But the failure has raised suspicions about the disposition of records that could provide intimate details about what happened on that chaotic day, and whose preservation was mandated by federal law.

“This was the most singularly stressful day for the Secret Service since the attempted assassination of [Ronald] Reagan,” said Paul Rosenzweig, a senior policy official at the Department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration who’s now a cybersecurity consultant in Washington. “Why apparently was there no interest in preserving records for the purposes of doing an after-action review? It’s like we have a 9/11 attack and air traffic control wipes its records.”

Rosenzweig said he polled 11 of his friends with cybersecurity backgrounds, including information-security chiefs at federal agencies, on whether any of them had ever done a migration without a plan for backing up data and restoring it. None of them had. “There’s a relatively high degree of skepticism about [the Secret Service] in the group,” he said.

The experts said that backing up the data on the phones would have been ridiculously easy.

If the Secret Service had truly wanted to preserve agents’ messages, experts said, it should have been almost trivially easy to do so. Backups and exports are a basic feature of nearly every messaging service, and federal law requires such records to be safeguarded and submitted to the National Archives.

Several experts were critical of the Secret Service’s explanation that it had asked agents to upload their own phone data to an agency drive before their phones were wiped. Cybersecurity professionals said that policy was “highly unusual,” “ludicrous,” a “failure of management” and “not something any other organization would ever do.”

The error is especially notable because of the Secret Service’s vaunted role in the federal bureaucracy. Besides protecting America’s most powerful people, the agency leads some of the government’s most technically sophisticated investigations of financial fraud, ransomware and cybercrime.

I’m no expert, but I smell a coverup.

A couple more January 6 stories:

Betsy Woodruff Swan at Politico: The RNC ‘election integrity’ official appearing in DOJ’s Jan. 6 subpoenas.

In addition to a group of former President Donald Trump’s top lawyers, the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 probe is also seeking communications to and from a Republican National Committee staffer in a sensitive role.

da268b94c8995a615cdcda7b987a185cAt least three witnesses in DOJ’s investigation of so-called alternate electors in the 2020 election — two in Arizona and another in Georgia — have received subpoenas demanding communications to and from Joshua Findlay, who is now the RNC’s national director for election integrity.

POLITICO reviewed the subpoena sent to the Georgia witness afterthe Washington Postpublished copies of two Arizona subpoenas. Findlay’s appearance in the documents means the Justice Department has taken interest in his communications as part of its probe related to pro-Trump GOP officials and activists who presented themselves as legitimate electors from states where Joe Biden won.

Findlay worked for Trump’s 2020 campaign in multiple capacities. In January 2019, the campaign announced he was joining the team that would handle the 2020 Republican National Convention. After the convention, he worked as an attorney on the Trump campaign’s legal team.

The three subpoenas order the witnesses to share all documents and communications from October 2020 on, “[t]o, from, with, or including” a list of people, including Findlay.

While Findlay is not a central figure in the Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation, the head of the Trump campaign’s legal team, Matt Morgan, mentioned him in testimony to the panel. At a hearing on June 21, the panel played a video clip where one of its investigators, Casey Lucier, said some Trump campaign lawyers “became convinced that convening electors in states that Trump lost was no longer appropriate.”

Read the rest at Politico.

Lisa Rubin at Maddowblog: Why an unnamed ‘White House employee’ could be a pivotal Jan. 6 witness.

With the revelation that several senior Trump administration officials and Cabinet secretaries have testified or will soon testify before the House Jan. 6 committee, the political press is abuzz about what that could mean for the congressional fact-finding mission — and for the Justice Department’s criminal investigation. After all, as Politico reported Thursday, the DOJ and the Jan. 6 committee finally have reached a “general agreement” over evidence sharing that could grant federal investigators access to more than 1,000 transcripts of witness testimony.

50362e7c46f16929020bba5999c56ce4That the DOJ soon will have a vehicle for obtaining evidence from the Jan. 6 committee has me thinking about a wholly different witness, however, and one whose name I don’t even know. Based on former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s prior testimony and committee members’ own statements at the hearings to date, an as-yet-unnamed White House employee or employees could be among the most significant witnesses to then-President Donald Trump’s words, actions and inaction on and around Jan. 6.

Specifically, at the so-called season finale of the committee’s hearings last week, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., highlighted that “within 15 minutes of leaving the stage” at the Ellipse rally, Trump was informed about the attack on the Capitol by a person she described only as “a White House employee” who encountered Trump “as soon as he returned to the Oval [Office].” From there, Luria said, Trump went to the private dining room off the Oval Office at 1:25 p.m.

Later in the hearing, her colleague Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., returned to that unnamed White House employee, noting that Trump left the dining room on Jan. 6 for the White House residence at 6:27 p.m. Kinzinger added:

“As he was gathering his things in the dining room to leave, President Trump reflected on the day’s events with a White House employee. This was the same employee who had met President Trump in the Oval Office after he returned from the Ellipse. President Trump said nothing to the employee about the attack. He said only quote, ‘Mike Pence let me down.”

Rubin suggests that the person who overheard this remark could be a White House valet, and that person could have witnessed interactions between Trump and other officials and heard more remarks from Trump during the time that Trump was watching the violence at the Capitol. Read more at the link.

More stories to check out, links only:

The New York Times: Russian National Charged With Spreading Propaganda Through U.S. Groups.

NBC News: Combat vet ‘fuming’ over lawmakers’ failure to pass two bipartisan measures that could have helped millions.

Slate: When Can Dying Patients Get a Lifesaving Abortion? These Hospital Panels Will Now Decide.

The New York Times: Fox News, Once Home to Trump, Now Often Ignores Him.

NBC News: New York Gov. Hochul declares state disaster emergency over monkeypox.

Axios: Sinema indicates she may want to change Schumer-Manchin deal.

The Washington Post: Hot mic captured Gaetz assuring Stone of pardon, discussing Mueller redactions.